Spanish prime minister Monday said Spain is “just 100 days away from reaching herd immunity” to COVID-19.
Pedro Sanchez asserted once 70% of the population is vaccinated, the country will have achieved that goal.
“The data invite optimism. One-third of the adult population in Spain has already received one dose, and half of that group has been fully vaccinated,” Sanchez told a news conference in Greece.
“Today, we’ll reach the goal of 6 million people fully vaccinated,” he continued.
This is the clearest timeframe laid out yet for Spaniards, putting the tantalizing target of herd immunity in mid-August.
Previously, Spanish officials had pledged to reach the goal by “the end of summer.”
Spain’s vaccination campaign has accelerated in recent weeks. On Thursday, a record 573,014 people received jabs.
If the vaccination campaign speeds up only slightly and vaccine acceptance remains strong, 70% of the adult population could be immune to the virus within little more than three months.
Yet experts are still split over when herd immunity, which is achieved when enough people are immune to an infectious disease to protect even those who are not immune, could kick in for COVID-19.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many experts estimated that the herd immunity target would be reached once 60-70% of the population had become immune to COVID-19.
With more contagious variants, leading authorities like Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the US president, suggest the herd immunity threshold may now be closer to 90%.
According to the latest major survey on vaccine acceptance, 82% of Spanish residents are willing to get a COVID-19 jab. When children and adolescents will be able to receive jabs is another question mark.
With just around one-third of Spain’s adult population vaccinated, contagion has already been dropping in most areas of the country. On Friday, the Health Ministry reported 8,186 new infections.
Whether or not that will hold amid looser restrictions remains to be seen.
On Sunday, Spain lifted the state of emergency, which ushered in raucous celebrations on streets across the nation. In most places in Spain, there is no longer a curfew or any travel restrictions.
“We are beginning to overcome this calamity,” Sanchez said. “We are in a new phase of the pandemic.”
On Friday, Spain reported 66 more COVID-19 deaths – the lowest number since last summer.
That’s still much higher than in a country like the UK, where restrictions are still tighter than in Spain and 67% of the adult population has received at least one jab. On Sunday, the nation reported just two COVID-19 deaths.